Do you ever listen to the Amateur Traveler podcast? I do, and it makes me want to see the entire world. All of it! It was there that CouchSurfing.org finally got my attention. A woman solo-traveler mentioned having used this community liberally, to help her find intermittent places to stay, during a year of world travel. Aha! Now THAT, I thought, sounds like something I need to check into!
Which I did, eventually, on a day when thoughts of I Don't Think I Can Bear It One More Month If I Can't Just GO Somewhere Already! swirled through my mind. I spent a Saturday afternoon immersing myself in the profiles of CS members, and other documentation, trying to wrap my mind around whether I could, in fact, see myself as an active participant in a community that connects formerly complete strangers so that travelers would have a place to stay and those not currently traveling could still meet interesting people from their homes. And my answer was yes! Of course I can! I mean, if you stretch the definition a bit, I've been "Couch Surfing" for ages! Only it never occurred to me to call it that, back when I hosted friends in my huge college apartment, in my sweet house that followed, and then... well, you know. There's the way I live now.
Of course I joined this community! But then what? I've already worked out my lodging arrangements for my west coast trip, and since my actual couch is still in a house in WV (yea, Mom, I know... I'll move it one day, really!) I can't very well host travelers either! Still, what a fascinating community!
But it occurred to me that since I haven't worked out the details for my "side trip" to Vancouver, from Seattle, if I should be able to garner enough references before that alleged future time, perhaps I could actually stay in the home of a seasoned Couch Surfing member. So I've asked a few friends to help me out. The jury's still out on whether I'll ever hear from those people again, or not.
For those who are still wondering what this is all about, here's an article I found that tells you far more than I could: How to Use CouchSurfing to See the World. It was written by Baker, a travel/finance/life-hack blogger at Man vs. Debt, who actually has first-hand knowledge of what this whole CouchSurfing business is like. Plus? He's traveling with his wife and kid. Go read it. Really.
Okay, some of you are still here. So I'll tell you this: CouchSurfing.org has established layers of security measures that helps members be as cautious or bold as they like. I recommend you read this Safety Features page, if you're still concerned for my well being. (Or if you're that friend who said to me the other night, "People are crazy. You sure you wanna' do this?" Yes sir, I actually do!)
Meanwhile, if you know me and would like to help out, but you just aren't interested in joining One More Thing (especially a "thing" that lets people stay in the homes of other people they never met before, while traveling,) you can still help. And I'd love it if you would! Just write me a reference, and email it to me! That's right - if you've slept on any of my couches or beds in the past, or you've hosted me in your home, or you've just known me for a long time and think I'm a nifty kind of gal... what would you want a perfect stranger to know about me, if they were contemplating hosting me in their home one day? Good. Write that down and email it to me. Please. I figure I can post these on a special place on this website, and refer interested CouchSurfing community members there. Maybe that couldn't hurt, as I get established in this fascinating little circle. Then maybe I won't have to stay in a hotel in Vancouver! (Though if I do, I'll still have a magnificent time, take tons of pictures, and tell you all about it. Promise - either way!)
And? If I do know you and, like me, you think this whole CouchSurfing idea is really pretty nifty, let me know when you join and maybe we can write references for each other!
PS: Thank you Sara for being my first CouchSurfing friend!!!!
It seemed like a good time to follow up and add a link to the page with the references I solicited in this original blog post. Now that I have a "wants to be a real travel blog when it grows up," that seemed like the superior place to add them.